Wednesday, January 21, 2009


My night in the forest of Koh Ker, warmed by the log fire
Apologies for the lack of posts, but I've had a hectic schedule these last few days. Following my quad-bike adventure, it was off into the forest surrounding the temples at Koh Ker, a couple of hours north of Siem Reap, to experience for myself, the safari tents that Hanuman provide for their guests who wish to enjoy a unique adventure at the remote temple sites around Cambodia. And I would say this of course, but really, they are damn good. Then it was back on the bus to Phnom Penh and straight off to see the documentary Sleepwalking Through The Mekong at Meta House last night. The film's director John Pirozzi was present to introduce his film, shot when the band Dengue Fever came to Cambodia a couple of years ago to bring their own brand of 60s and 70s psychedelic Khmer pop-rock back home. Fronted by a Cambodian-born singer Chhom Nimol, the rest of the band originate from Los Angeles and have become a major tour de force on the American music scene, releasing three critically-acclaimed albums to-date. The film follows their fortunes as they encounter Cambodia for the first-time during a 9-day visit and from the footage we saw, they had a ball. The scene where they join the children from the Bassac slum, who are part of the Cambodian Living Arts program, was just classic soppy entertainment. And the accompanying musical soundtrack was bread and butter to my two Khmer friends that joined me at the screening. Nice film, great band. Tonight, at the French Cultural Centre, I've been invited to a preview screening of Anne Bass' Dancing Across Borders documentary with cocktails beforehand. Should I wear a suit? Have I got a suit? No is the answer, so I'll go smart casual.
Film director John Pirozzi introduces his documentary on the band Dengue Fever
Chhom Nimol, the Cambodian-born lead singer with Dengue Fever
Chhom Nimol and the band are introduced to the Cambodian public on the CTN tv channel
Kong Nai was one of the masters that the band performed with during their visit to Cambodia

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Blogger Andy Brouwer said...

Whoops, I forgot the website for the film:

The director John Pirozzi is also putting together another film, called Don't Think I've Forgotten, all about the 60s and 70s Khmer pop-rock scene. I think Pirozzi has a Cambodia fixation after working on the film, City of Ghosts, way back when. And good luck to him I say.

January 21, 2009 9:28 AM  
Blogger Andy Brouwer said...

Update on Don't Think I've Forgotten...
I chatted briefly to John Pirozzi last night at the CLA night at Meta House. He's in Cambodia right now to finish shooting for the film, has got the necessary financial backing to complete the task and will return to the States soon to edit and complete post-production. He's looking to get the film out by May or at the latest June.

It will be a full-length feature (90 mins) and he is really keen to get it shown over here in Cambodia as early as possible. It turns out that he loves being here and is even considering amending his schedule so that he spends Jan & Feb out here each year.

I asked him to spill the beans about the film knowing full well that he wouldn't, but at least he told me that there will be some recreated scenes in it. With a subject like Cambodian rock n roll, in most countries it would be straightforward in picking through the archives, talking to old stars, etc, etc,. In Cambodia, there's none of that. All the footage was destroyed, all the stars that shone so brightly in the 60s and 70s were singled out and killed. So its been a tough job and that's why its taken so long, as well as funding issues along the way. However the success of Dengue Fever and his film about their return to Cambodia has given the project new life and its full steam ahead from now on.
Great news.

January 31, 2009 9:21 AM  

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